Rondo’s HVRT CF0 was our 2019 Bike of The Year and uses Rondo’s innovative switchable fork dropout where a flipped insert alters ride position from racy to endurance.
That versatility also stretches to switching in 650b wheels to maximise tyre clearance for a capable gravel machine.
Its aero credentials are high. Tubing is of kammtail design, junctions are aero sculpted, and the dropped stays are aero shaped that taper down to the rear dropouts before a kink back toward the axle.
The aero-shaped dropped stays taper down to the rear dropouts. David Caudery / Immediate Media
This subtle shaping has a pronounced effect. You see, with most aero-bladed seat tubes, stays and seatposts, large sizing means stiffness, leading to a harder ride.
But with the HVRT, the increased tyre clearance means the bladed tube narrows towards the bottom bracket, a cutaway giving 30mm clearance on 700c wheels and 47mm on 650.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Rondo HVRT CF0 is part of our annual Bike of the Year test.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
There’s clearance for 30mm tyres on 700c wheels and 47mm on 650b, and the fork’s design means you can swap between wheel sizes. David Caudery / Immediate Media
This slimmer tube then works in sync with the seatstays where that kinked design acts like a spring, forging a compliant back end.
The fork offers plenty of design flourishes, too, including down-tube integration and a minimal yet wide profile, both for aero benefits.
The design means the rear is very compliant. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The brake hose descends internally to a clever flat mount for the disc caliper.
Of course, the fork’s main innovation is that twin-tip dropout where you can alter the stack, reach, head angle, seat angle and fork offset.
All the cables are routed internally. David Caudery / Immediate Media
To that end, the HVRT in its high-axle (race) setting is in its element. My 59cm test bike featured a stack just shy of 600mm and a long 407mm reach.
My 59cm test bike had a 600mm stack and 407mm reach. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Throw in steep 73.8-degree head and 73.3-degree seat angles, with a 45mm fork offset, and you have one fast-steering machine.
The chassis responds rapidly to pedal and steering inputs. Thankfully, rigidity maximises ascents, as do the 11-28 cassette (and 36 upfront) and classy Fabric Scoop Ultimate saddle.
The wheels – a collaboration between Rondo and Hunt – impress too. A 50mm-deep carbon rim, with 21mm internal dimension, doesn’t sound like the template for a fast ascender, but it is thanks to a combination of the low 1,487g weight (per pair) and the rear hub’s rapid engagement. They’re impressive in crosswinds, too.
The wheels are a collaboration between Rondo and Hunt and have a 50mm-deep carbon rim with a 21mm internal dimension. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Master of road and rough
But it’s that easily switched geometry that’s the unique sell. In the low-axle position, the stack rises to 605mm and the reach down to 400mm, the head angle relaxes to 73 degrees, the seat angle to 72 degrees and the fork offset nudges to 40mm.
While the differences are subtle, the effect on the road is significant. In the higher position, it’s a nimble handler; in the lower position, it’s more stable.
Rondo’s fork dropout alters ride position from racy to endurance. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Its metamorphosis from speedster to cruiser’s not cumbersome, though, as it’s still more aggressive than most endurance bikes (an equivalent Cannondale Synapse has a 610mm stack and 393mm reach).
The further bonus, of course, is the option of running 650b wheels with up to 47c tyres. Plenty of brands offer dual-wheel size for gravel bikes but, first and foremost, this is a road bike. Despite that, it’s a revelation in the rough.
The 50mm-deep Hunt x Rondo wheels are fast, climb smartly and tame crosswinds. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The chassis is responsive while the 47c WTB Horizon tyres cover rough surfaces with ease. Big hits are dealt a further cushioned blow thanks to the Fabric saddle and Easton EC70 carbon bars.
To enjoy the full gravel experience, it needs a second wheelset. Rondo gives HRVT owners a 15 per cent off voucher with wheel partners Hunt. The wheels I tested (Hunt x Rondo 650b, 20mm internal) are £271.15 down from the RRP of £319.
Fabric’s Scoop Flat Ultimate saddle helps to cushion big hits along with Easton’s EC70 Aero carbon bars. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Many gravel bikes, such as GT’s Grade, offer the versatility to enjoy the roads, but their DNA’s gravel. This is a road bike at heart.
As such, it’s race-day swift or, with a subtle insert flip, a comfy all-day steed. Ultimately, that versatility means if I had one bike to live with, arguably it’d be this.
Rondo HVRT CF0 geometry (Hi / LO axle position)
Seat angle: 73.3 / 72.6 degrees
Head angle: 73.8 / 73.1 degrees
Seat tube: 57cm
Top tube: 58.7cm / 58.9cm
Head tube: 19.5cm
Fork offset: 4.5 cm / 4cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7.2cm / 6.7cm
Stack: 60cm / 60.5
Reach: 40.7cm / 40cm
With thanks to…
BikeRadar would like to thank 100%, Q36.5, Lazer, Garmin and Facom for their support during our Bike of the Year test.